Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Two "O"s In Football

After the second week of the season, you are either 2-0, 1-1 or 0-2.  Some of those teams who have those zeros in their record were supposed to be there [Bengals, Raiders] while others are surprises [Panthers, Saints]



NEW ORLEANS SAINTS [biggest surprise]:  The Saints are 2-0 despite playing both games on the road.  Sure, the wins were against the lowly Browns and Packers....but the Saints were the 2nd worst team in the league a year ago.  Of course, a year ago there was no Reggie Bush or Drew Brees in the Saints black and gold.  Can they keep it up?  No.  Here is what the Saints' have to look forward to: Atlanta, at Carolina, Tampa, Philly, Baltimore, at Tampa, at Pittsburgh, Cincy, at Atlanta, San Francisco, at Dallas, Washington, at Giants and Carolina.  Wow. 

MINNESOTA VIKINGS [big surprise]:  The Vikings are one of the more interesting 2-0 teams and the rest of the league should take note.  Minnesota has won at Washington and against NFC favorite Carolina.  Their offense hasn't been spectacular, but very, very effective.  Their defense has played well, allowing just two TDs thus far.    Can they keep it up?  Well, they host fellow 2-0 Chicago next week.  A few weeks later, they get Seattle and New England back-to-back.  It will be tough, but they are a legit playoff contender. 

BALTIMORE RAVENS [nice surprise]:  Everything is looking better in B-more.  The defense looks like it's old self; the offense is legit; everything looks fine.  They've allowed just 6 points so far this season.  Can they keep it up?  At least another week.  They head to Cleveland next week before having a horrid three game stretch afterwards.  Struggling to punch the ball in againstthe Raiders has me worried. 

ATLANTA FALCONS [mild surprise]:  The Falcons have been good, so it isn't unlikely that they'd be 2-0 now.  But in doing so, they have beaten two playoff teams....the two NFC South teams that made the postseason last year.  And that's big.  They've already beaten the two teams they'd be battling with for division supremecy.  The run game has been phenomenal, as the coaching staff has allowed Michael Vick to use all his athletic talents.  Can they keep it up?  For a short while longer.  They have the Saints and Cards coming up next...then a bye.  After that, it is the Giants, Steelers and Bengals.  They could go from 4-0 to 4-3 really fast. 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS [little surprised]:  I mean, the Pats should be 2-0 against the lowly Bills and Jets.  But those Bills and Jets won road games against other opponents.  Plus, the Pats have had a hard time figuring out who their receivers would be this year.  Can they keep it up?  No one game plans like they do, but with the Broncos, Bengals and Dolphins up will be hard.  They are still the best team in the AFC East, but the next few weeks will see how strong they are in the AFC. 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS [tiny surprise]:  Not that they aren't good....but their win in New York to start the season shows they are still a top dog to look at.  Can they keep it up?  Big game with the Jags next week before killing the Jets and Titans. 

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS [hardly a surprise]:  Let's see....the Raiders and Titans.  Wow.  Ohio State would be 2-0 with that schedule.  Can they keep it up?  Big game against fellow undefeated Ravens next week.  Then Pittsburgh. 

CHICAGO BEARS [not a surprise]:  It isn't a surprise that the Bears are 2-0.  They had the NFC's 2nd best record last year and boasts one of the best defenses in the NFL.  Also, they've played the Packers and Lions,who were a combined 9-23 last season and are breaking in new coaches.  What is a surprise is how great their offense has looked.  Can they keep it up?  Why not?  Of their next six games, only the Seahawks were a playoff team last season. 

CINCINNATI BENGALS [no surprise]:  Carson Palmer is is most of their weapons.  The defense has been a nice help and Rudi Johnson is running like a madman.  Can they keep it up?  How is this?  At Pittsburgh, New England, at Tampa, Carolina, Atlanta, at Baltimore, San Diego.  That's their next 7 games.  That ain't the Browns. 

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS [no surprise]:  What?  They had to be 2-0 after facing the Lions and Cardinals.  Can they keep it up?  Hmmm.  Well, they have a good two weeks ahead.  They host the Giants next week, then go to Chicago.  Both are huge games in the NFC race.



CAROLINA PANTHERS [savagely surprised]:  The loss of Steve Smith has had a huge effect on the offense.  But a team that was supposed to be so dominant shouldn't let one person bring it down.  Can they turn it around?  Yes.  They have a huuuuuuge game at Tampa next week in which both teams will be so desperate to win.  After that, they get the Saints and Browns, who they can beat. 

MIAMI DOLPHINS [very surprised]:  The Dolphins were supposed to be the team to topple the Pats' strangle-hold on the AFC East.  Instead, they lose a good game at Pittsburgh then lose a stinker at home to the Bills.  Can they turn it around?  Sure.  The next two games are against the bad Titans and Texans...but the Bills were supposed to be bad, too. 

WASHINGTON REDSKINS [moderately surprised]: I didn't think the Skins would be 0-2....but I thought they could be.  Their offense during the preseason looked horrible, and there really hasn't been a healthy Clinton Portis.  The Dallas loss isn't a shocker, but the Vikes one was a bit.  Can they turn it around?  They better next week in Houston....or heads will roll.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS [mildly surprised]:  Tampa's offense has been horrible.  Very horrible.  However, they've gone up against two really good defenses.  Can they turn it around?  It's gonna be hard.  They get the Panthers next week...then at New Orleans.  After that: Cincy, Philly, at Giants, N'Awlins, at Carolina, Washington, at Dallas, at Pittsburgh, Atlanta and at Chicago.  They do get to go to Cleveland before closing out the year against Seattle. 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS [tiny bit surprised]:  Well, they played the Bengals and Broncos....and had their QBs head taken off.  So, what are they supposed to do?  Can they turn it around?  Well, they won't lose next week [they have a bye].  After that, it is the Niners and there is a good chance they can get to 2-2 before a hell streak that sees the Steelers, Chargers and Seahawks. 

GREEN BAY PACKERS [maybe a bit surprised]:  Not that this team was supposed to be good or anything....but with two home games, you'd think they could come out of that with something to cheer about.  An ugly loss to Chicago with an ugly dive against the Saints makes me think that they're done.  Can they turn it around?  Favre usually plays well in maybe.  Also, they don't have a 2-0 team until November. 

CLEVELAND BROWNS [not terribly surprised]:  Well, the Browns have played the Saints and Bengals who are a combined 4-0 now.  Can they turn it around?  It's gonna be hard.  The Browns' offense has struggled at times, and with the Panthers, Ravens and Broncos defenses up in three of the next four weeks....this team could be a turkey. 

HOUSTON TEXANS [not surprised at all]:  Look, Houston has played two teams that are playoff contenders and feature two of the best QBs in the game.  Still, this team has struggled to run the ball and defend the pass.  Can they turn it around?  Not soon.  They get the Skins and Dolphins at home, a bye, then go to Dallas and then host Jacksonville.  They should be 0-6 when they head into Tennessee

TENNESSEE TITANS [not really surprised]:  The fact that they dumped their starting QB before the season started by replacing him with someone who wasn't on a team should've sent some major signals.  Can they turn it around?  Again, they should be 0-6 heading into the game against the Texans on October 29.  They have Miami, Dallas, Indy and Washington.  They may as well go ahead and start Vince Young. 

DETROIT LIONS [not surprised]:  This is a new coaching staff installing a new system with a new QB.  Oh, and they played the two best teams in the NFC last year.  Can they turn it around?  Yeah, they play the Packers next week. 

OAKLAND RAIDERS [not surprised]:  This team sucks.  Can they turn it around?  This team sucks. 

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